Imagine this scenario: you’ve been stuck in a job you hate for nearly a decade. It doesn’t pay a lot, just enough for you to keep on top of your bills and put some money away. Perhaps you’re paying down debt or maybe want to put a down payment on a house.
And then a dream job opportunity comes up. It’s a job in a great company with a lot of opportunity for career progression, but the hours are more suited to you and allow you to pursue your other passions. Maybe you have a blog or a side hustle that you could really do with spending more time on.
The issue is this: whilst it pays enough to cover your bills, it’s fewer hours/less money than you had before. This means your debt/savings timeline has grown significantly longer. It barely seems like you’re having any impact on your goals at all.
How do you stay motivated? Would it be better to stay in a job you hate with no real prospects or give this new dream shot but risk losing all of the financial momentum you’ve gathered?
If you can only save $10 a week, it seems so insignificant. You can often feel it’d be better spent on a bottle of wine to drown your sorrows.
You must, however, bear in mind that the time will pass anyway. Sure, you may only be saving half of what you used to. As long as you are still saving, though, you’ll be on the right path, albeit a longer one.
Think of it as getting more financial exercise – it’s funny how similar a weight loss journey is to a journey towards financial freedom.
It’s all very well me telling you why you should keep the financial freedom ball rolling. You really need to know how to keep motivated. Luckily, I came up with a few tips:
1. Re-think your timeline
I’ll use the example of paying off student loans. Say you were on track to pay them off in five years, and then you had to half the amount of your repayments. Maybe your circumstances changed in some way.
There’s no point burning yourself out trying to stick to the same deadline, so crunch those numbers and give yourself a new debt-free date. It may be a decade away, but make sure you have the exact date in your head.
If you just think to yourself you won’t be debt free for the foreseeable future, it’ll make you want to crawl under the covers, get into the foetal position and rock. That’s not helping anyone.
2. Rework your budget
It may be entirely possible to find the extra money you need in your existing budget. If you’re truly determined to stick to your existing timeline and are willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary, I’m right behind you.
Here’s a post from the archives about cutting your spending quickly. It’s not easy, but by golly, it’ll put a frugal fire in your belly.
A great thing to do is completely eliminate a regular expense. For example, my boyfriend and I now don’t spend a penny on date night. Instead, we either go for a long walk or get a blanket on the sofa and binge watch a tv show.
Other ideas could be getting rid of cable or reducing how often you eat out – the possibilities here are plentiful – here is a great post from MSM about trimming your budget.
3. Increase your income
Increasing your income isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a few ways, however, you can easily earn a little more cash. I do some freelance writing, but it really depends on your area of expertise.
Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas on making some more money. There’s everything from how to sell all of your unwanted clutter, to starting your own Etsy store.
I’d be surprised if you didn’t have some skill lurking somewhere that you could use to make some cash. It can be anything: babysitting, fundraising, cooking, baking, cleaning, writing, reading, walking, knitting, talking, typing. The possibilities are endless.
4. Check in regularly
Arguably this is the most important tip I have.
So, you’re new to living a frugal lifestyle and aren’t used to sticking to a budget. It can be so easy to slip back into your old spending habits. Take the time, at least once a month, to review various aspects of your budget.
In my experience, it’s your grocery budget that fluctuates the most depending on how aware you are of being frugal.
When I’ve recently had a budget review, my shopping list basically consists of fruits, vegetables (mostly frozen) and canned/dry goods. Then, if I don’t keep my eye on it, more and more convenience foods (frozen pizzas, ice cream, ready-meals) start to sneak their way in.
I’m afraid it’s not easy in today’s work to keep up your motivation for financial freedom. The pressure from EVERYWHERE to keep up with the Joneses can be crippling.
Trust me, though, it’s worth it in the end. Sure, the journey may be long and tiring. In exchange for a little perseverance and a lot of delayed gratification, you’ll get peace of mind, happiness and a decent nights sleep – three things you cannot, my friend, put a price on.
About the Author: Caroline has recently turned to the frugal side after her partner lost his job and they had to survive on her (meagre) income. He found another job but she’s still frugal 😉 Read more at http://www.carolinecocker.com.